CHICAGO (WLS) -- There are few seasons in the Midwest as short as strawberries.
Lasting just a few weeks, the time to find juicy, ripe berries is now. Any farmer's market will have them, but so will a fifth-generation farm in Indiana, only 45 minutes from The Loop.
Even though strawberries show up in our local grocery stores year-round, take a look at their label. They're generally not from the Midwest, and if you cut them open, you'll see an all-white core. That means they've been bred for color, not flavor. There's no denying the allure of fresh strawberries from the Midwest, at their peak.
The family behind the fifth generation Johnson's Farm Produce in Hobart doesn't mince words: strawberries are ready now, and people have been picking them for the last week, resulting in bushels ready for sale up in the front retail store. Grown beneath straw, to protect them, there are several varieties of berries planted here, each resulting in different sizes and flavor profiles.
"Earliglow is my family's personal favorite. It has the best flavor, it's red all the way through - makes the best jam - but the problem with it is it's not a particularly large berry and the size drops quickly," said Randy Johnson. "Honeoye has kind of a different flavor. It's not quite as sweet but a lot of people really enjoy the strawberry flavor of it. But Darselect is one that we really like the flavor of and the size."
A cool, wet spring pushed things back a bit this year, but Johnson figures they'll have berries up until the first week of July.
Next door, in their expanded bakery, the berries are put to good use in an assortment of pies, sweets and irresistible donuts, dusted in sugar, that are nearly impossible to stop eating if you happen to get them warm. But even if you just come for a bucket or a pint, take a moment to appreciate the fact these local berries are red throughout.
"When you cut into it, you want it to be just like a tomato -red all the way through. You don't want that white core," said Johnson.
On weekends, they've set up an elaborate "Fun Farm" for kids, so it's very family friendly. But again, strawberry season only runs through the end of the month.
Johnson Farm Produce
8960 E. Ridge Rd., Hobart, IN
Other Places to Find Strawberries Now:
Green City Market (Lincoln & Clark)
Wed. and Sat., 7 am - 1 pm
Lincoln Square Farmer's Market (Lincoln & Leland)
Tues. 7 - 7:30 a.m. (seniors); 7:30 a.m. - 1 p.m. and Thurs. 3:30 - 4 p.m. (seniors); 4 - 8 p.m.
Sunday Market at Daisies
2523 N. Milwaukee Ave., 773-661-1671
10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
INDEPENDENT MARKETS IN THE CITY:
Pullman City Market
11100 S. Cottage Grove Ave.
July 1-October 28,7am-1pm
La Follette Park City Market
1333 N. Laramie Ave.
July 29-September 16,2-7pm
Roseland City Market
138 W. 109th St.
August 26-October 28,2:30-5:30pm
Austin Town Hall City Market
5610 W. Lake St.
July 16-September 17,1-6pm
Division Street City Market
30 W. Division St.
June 20-October 31,7am-12pm
Printers Row City Market
700 S. Dearborn St.
July 11-October 24,7am-1pm
West Humboldt Park City Market
in partnership with NHS Chicago
3601 W. Chicago Ave.
June 13-October 3,10am-2pm
Englewood City Market
1219 W. 76th St.
@ Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Roller Skating & Bowling Center
July 18-September 19,10am-2pm
4700 S. King Dr.
July 12-September 13,12-4pm